The full weight of the law has come down on the veteran singer following charges of defamation.
Onyeka Onwenu has been asked by a Lagos State High Court to pay a sum of N5m for defamation and publicly apologize to Chairman Copyright Society of Nigeria and former president Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) , Chief Tony Okoroji.
Ms. Onwenu had been at war since 2011 when Okoroji went to court following a perceived defamatory article in Vanguard newspaper. Onyeka had accused Okoroji of embezzlement of Christie Igbokwe’s burial funds, and also alleged that he is threatening to murder her. The case was earlier taken to court, but thrown out in 2015 in a Lagos High Court presided over by Mrs. I.O Kasali. But an appeal by Okoroji has proved successful.
The judgement was delivered yesterday, Thursday, June 30, 2016 by a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja by Hon Justice I. O. Akinkugbe.
Reacting to the judgment, a jubilant Okoroji said “ Once again, the courts have come to my rescue proving that despite what may be said to the contrary, you can obtain justice in Nigeria. I wish I never had to take Ms. Onwenu to court. She however left me with little choice . This has taken close to four years of going in and out of court but at the end of the day, I must thank Honourable Justice Akinkugbe who the Almighty has again used to do justice for her professionalism. I must also thank my lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige for his commitment and thoroughness’. He continues to say, ‘I have committed much of my life to fighting for the welfare of every musician in Nigeria and protecting the interest of all including Ms. Onyeka Onwenu. In the battle, I have spared myself no inconvenience or discomfort and countless times, I have had to risk my life, my reputation and the welfare of my family.‘Working with my colleagues at COSON, we have made available to musicians across Nigeria hundreds of millions of naira as we set out with the building of the most professional, transparent and accountable organization in the history of the creative industries in Nigeria, something that was considered impossible just a few years ago.”
I went to court in self defence. Till today, I do not know what wrong I did to her. As someone I considered a close colleague and friend, I was shocked at the level of hatred she had generated within herself to justify her all-consuming campaign of lies without foundation to destroy the one thing she knows that I cherish most; my integrity.
Every appeal to Ms Onwenu to reconsider what she was doing fell on deaf ears. Onyeka Onwenu has known me for many years. She knows very well that under no circumstance would I take a penny that does not belong to me but it suited her purpose to project me to the world as a thief. Onyeka knows that I am a stickler for rules and order but it made her happy to tell the world that I am lawless and a despot.
‘I know that very few people will believe this: 3 years ago, Onyeka Onwenu went to the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ikeja to wickedly report that I was chasing her around at night in a red Jeep in her neighborhood with the intent to assassinate her!
This crazy report with absolutely no foundation was made a few days to my birthday (December 22) and Christmas. It took the wisdom of the police authorities and the intervention of elders in the music industry music industry such as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, Prof Victor Uwaifo and Dr. Ben Ofoeze to save me from the wickedness carefully planned for me by someone I had treated with so much respect and love as my sister and friend.
‘My commitment to my colleagues in the music industry, the whole of the Arts and the Nigerian nation remains unshaken. From the work we are doing, I see a very bright future soon for the creative industries in Nigeria. How many times have I passed this road? I hope my experience will be a lesson to young Nigerians that if you keep your hands clean and do your job diligently, it does not matter what wickedness any man or woman may contrive against you, the good Lord will protect you. The harder they come, the harder they fall’.
Reacting to the judgment, ace broadcaster, Patrick Doyle said: “ Some will recall that I publicly cautioned Ms. Onwenu when she began her ill-advised war of attrition against Okoroji. She refused to listen. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and she has to pay for her attempt to destroy a good man .”…. who is being tipped to be the next president of Nigeria….